It’s no secret that diabetes type-2 leads to all sorts of heart health related issues. You’ve seen the articles the graphs, the tables, the grotesque pictures, all to scare you into a healthier lifestyle. As a fellow diabetic, I get the onslaught just as you do. But health care providers aren’t being nagging, harpy, shrews–they really do have your best interest at….ahem…heart.
Spoiler Alert: Blatant self-advertising ahead! Way back, just a year after my transplant, I gained an enormous amount of weight due medications I was on. I lost it but the past two years recently, with ongoing health issues, I have gained a lot of the weight back. I’m still eating healthy, recipes upon recipes from my Ultimate Simple Healthy Fresh Cookbook, and slowly exercising when I’m able, are the key to keeping track of your diabetes and your heart.
Last Winter I had three stents put in my heart, as you well know, from my continued posts tracking my issues. The heart disease I had was sudden and rare, but it does happen. Now, I’m doubling down on what I can do to keep my ticker in top form. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), heart disease affects people with diabetes twice as often as people who don’t have diabetes, and it affects them at an earlier age. According to the CDC National Diabetes Fact Sheet 2011, cardiovascular disease causes more than two-thirds of deaths in people with diabetes.
People with diabetes also are two to four times more likely to have a stroke than people without diabetes, the CDC says.
If you have diabetes, the ADA lists several ways you can reduce your risk for developing heart disease:
Keep your A1C (or hemoglobin A1C) level around 7 percent. This test measures your average blood sugar during the previous three months. You should have this level checked at least twice a year, or more frequently if recommended by your doctor.
Keep your blood pressure at less than 130/80 mmHg. You should have your blood pressure checked each time you visit your health care provider.
Keep your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol level at less than 100 mg/dL through a healthy diet, regular exercise, and medications, if necessary. LDL is the main source for cholesterol buildup and blockage of arteries. Your cholesterol should be checked at least once a year.
Keep your HDL (“good”) cholesterol level at 40 mg/dL or higher for men, and at 50 mg/dL or higher for women. HDL carries cholesterol from the blood to the liver, where it is removed from the body.
- Keep your triglycerides level at 150 mg/dL or lower.
Lifestyle changes that can help reduce your risk for developing heart disease include quitting smoking; losing weight, if needed; getting regular exercise; and eating foods with less saturated fat and cholesterol.